Fighting the Prejudice of XBLA

Greg Tito | 23 Jun 2011 12:30
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TEM: The first Section 8 was a AAA-priced game, while the sequel Prejudice is a much more moderately priced game on Xbox Live, but with more content. What was the decision-making process for that discrepancy? Were you hoping to gather more word-of-mouth fans with a budget price?

Norton: Section 8: Prejudice was always intended as a sequel to Section 8, and we started development expecting it to be a normal retail release. We had also decided to self-publish Prejudice, which gave us a lot of flexibility in how we were going to distribute and market the game. About halfway into development, we looked at how we could best-distribute the game, and we realized we could push it as a digital-only release and sell it for a very modest price. TimeGate had prior experience with digital distribution as well, as Section 8 on the PlayStation 3 was released exclusively on the PlayStation Network.

Ultimately, we wanted to build a large, online communtiy. Prejudice is a very multiplayer-centric game, and we knew that building a strong community around the title would be necessary for it to succeed. By releasing digitally at lower price point, we knew it would grab more attention and draw a ton of fans to play the game.

So far, the decision has worked in our favor, and we're happy to report Prejudice is enjoying much higher concurrent player numbers than its predecessor.

TEM: Tom Ohle, who handled PR for Section 8 wrote a post on the Evolve PR blog that decried how little fanfare Prejudice received leading up to its release when he believed it was an excellent game worthy of more attention from the press. Why do you think certain games get attention while others do not? As an independent game company, how do you attempt to get your game noticed?

Norton: TimeGate's strategy has always been to make great, fun games first and push as many unique marketing angles as possible for that title. We're a very gameplay-centric company, and as such, we try to push that element in our marketing. That can be a hard sell sometimes, though, because we also like to do more deep and complex games as well.

As a result, we try to do a mix of marketing, alternating between snazzy cinematic trailers and deeper gameplay trailers. We want to upsell the action and general awesome chaos in the game, but at the same time, we need to push that Prejudice isn't just a re-skinned copy of other, more well-known shooters.

The marketing battle is always a fun one, and it's hard to predict. You can put a lot of time and energy into various marketing efforts, from pushing advertising campaigns to creating viral videos, and at the end of the day, you're crossing your fingers that the press will find your angle interesting enough to push out to readers. I give our marketing team a lot of credit for how thick their skins must be to put up with it all.

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